Joffrey Event Will Honor China Official

Times Staff Writer

David Murdock and the Joffrey Ballet are hosting a dinner March 16 to honor Ying Ruocheng, vice minister of culture, People's Republic of China. It will be at Murdock's famed Bellagio House in Bel-Air. Ying is best known in the West for his featured roles in Bernardo Bertolucci's Academy Award-winning film, "The Last Emperor," and as the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan in "Marco Polo," the NBC television miniseries. He has been vice minister of culture since 1986.

The ample, twinkly eyed Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Art Buchwald looked wonderfully rumpled in his starched white shirt and tux, and Wednesday evening he caused much laughter as he retorted to his sizzling "roast" from USC's School of Public Administration at its annual Ides of March Dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

While in Los Angeles, Buchwald said, "the first place I headed for was my old boarding house--39th Street and Vermont--which I hadn't seen in 47 years--but it wasn't as I remembered it. The windows were boarded up. . . . The roof had holes. . . . The porch was in the driveway. I went up and knocked at the door and the woman who answered said, 'If you've come to buy the house, it's $900,000.' And I went back and told (USC president James) Zumberge, and he said, 'You should have bought it.' "

USC has a fondness for Buchwald. After he went to Jamaica High School, Long Island, N.Y., (same school as USC trustees chairman George Scharffenberger) and left to join the Marines, he went to USC on the GI Bill of Rights. Buchwald never graduated, but he edited the campus magazine, Wampus.

The evening's chairman was James Miscoll, Bank of America executive vice president. (The evening netted $285,000, and now Miscoll and his wife, Inge, are off to Spain to dine with King Juan Carlos and discuss Spain's move into high technology.) Los Angeles Times editor Shelby Coffey III and Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad introduced Buchwald.

The head table stretched the length of the ballroom, and among the select were Jack (next year's Ides chairman) and Beverly Grundhofer, Tom and Edwina Johnson, Dennis and Linda Holt, William M. Keck II and his fiance, Sue Quinn; Dr. Mary Lee Coffey, Richard and Eileen Eamer, Fred and Millie O'Green, John and Judy Bedrosian and the USC School of Public Administration's head, Ross Clayton and his wife LuAnn, whose public administration students will reap the scholarship monies. On Buchwald's right was Marilyn Zumberge, USC first lady.

IRISH VIBES: Shamrocks potted in little baskets were on all the tables the other evening at the party Peter and Pamela Mullin hosted for one of the numerous openings of their downtown Engine Co. No. 28 Restaurant.

The occasion was the visit of Monsignor Miceal Ledwith, president of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland, the educational institution to which the Mullins (with their Irish country home) are devoted. Father Ledwith noted, "The new keepers of St. Patrick dwell in this city." He added, "Peace to this house."

Fiorenza Courtright (who claims she always wanted to be a chemist/physicist, and repairs her own television sets and her Rolls-Royce) arrived late, after taking a wrong turn, but she was warmly awaited by the Mullins and their friendly pals--Jerry and Lois Magnin, Jimmy and Annie Murphy, Tom and Kathleen McCarthy, Hugh and Lynn Evans, Marjorie and Cornelius Pings, Maude and Richard Ferry, among the many.

SPRING: "Spring Visions" and a view of Michael Novarese fashions brought the Luminaires, supporters of the Doheny Eye Institute, together last week at the Regent Beverly Wilshire for what they like to do best--which is to raise funds for the institute. There were Dohenys in the crowd: Topsy (Mrs. Timothy) Doheny and Onnalee (Mrs. William) Doheny.

Luminaires president Nancy Payne and luncheon chairman Ruth Harbour did the honors. New Orange County Luminaires--Eleanor Brown, Bobbie Grant and Jean Gaulder--drove up for the affair. Cynthia Yost, last year's chairman for the Geoffrey Beene show, was surrounded by her daughter Debbi Hoffman and friends Betty Ann Koen, Kathy Offenhauser, Debby Mielke, Maritia Walper and Susie McConaghy.

Alice Avery and Ginie Braun were asked to take bows for their extraordinary generosity. More in the audience were Caroline Singleton, Bobbie Galpin, Betty Morgan, Luminaires Juniors Candida Genzmer and Debbie Barry, Beverly Fitzgerald, Marilyn Roberts, Madge Burford, Sis Jones, Janice Boswell and devoted Luminaires founder Mary Crary.

BUSY WEEKEND: "The Mizrahi" cocktail debuted Thursday evening when Isaac Mizrahi, 26, new American fashion designer, was guest of honor at a champagne celebration hosted by the Fashion Group at the restored carrousel on the Santa Monica Pier. . . .

The Junior League of Los Angeles launches its fourth annual Rammage sale with a special Preview Night tonight. Those attending get the privilege of first chance to buy merchandise--but pay double for charity. Sue Spalding is chairman, assisted by Kathy Duffy. Also the league has a new project, "City Window." It's a cable television series on Century Southwest Cable, looking at issues such as teen pregnancy, homeless children and parenting. . . .

The lure of interior designer John Saladino and couturier Mary McFadden is drawing a Los Angeles contingent to Santa Barbara Saturday for a "Day of Design" at the Four Seasons Biltmore, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Museum. Heading north are Sophie Mastor, Melinda Winston, Judy Colburn, Theanna Panagiotis and Diana Bollero. . . .

Ben Vereen is the attraction Saturday for the Merchants Club for the City of Hope black-tie Regal Ball. . . .

Those impressionist and modern artworks collected by the British Rail Pension Fund will be on view at Sotheby's Beverly Hills, 308 N. Rodeo Drive, today through Monday. The collection is expected to sell for $34 million with the Monet "Santa Maria della Salute et le Grand Canal, Venise" estimated to sell for as much as $6.8 million. . . .

Leona Barker of Bel-Air heads the National Charity League Los Angeles chapter and the Junior Charity League benefit luncheon with Luis Estevez fashions Saturday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. . . .

There will be champagne in the lobby of the South Coast Repertory before George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell" opening this evening and a follow-up, a reception after the show for the cast and artists.

KUDOS: Not only did 430 influential guests raise $100,000 for Angel's Flight, the crisis center for runaway youth, the other evening at a formal affair presided over by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Archbishop Roger Mahony. But the Burton G. Bettingen Corp. more than matched it with a gift of $150,000, says Monsignor David Cousineau, executive director of Catholic Charities and chairman of the gala. Uniting to support the cause were Suzanne Mackel, Diane Downey, Jane Sullivan, Robert Smith, Paul G. Johansing, Fletcher Hull, Peter Nigg and John S. Wilson. . . . Charles Reed and Martha Brown Hicks are reporting $70,000 ($10,000 more than the goal) for the gala for Skid Row Development Corp. at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. . . .

Chancellor Charles E. Young has announced that UCLA is launching a $25-million five-year private campaign for athletics, this on the heels of the UCLA Campaign, just concluded, garnering $355 million in private gifts for campus academics, $55 million over the announced target.

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